5 Little and Grim reviews: Mourning Joe + Gravedigger's Daughter + Red Death + Tell-Tale + House of Usher
Good day, readers! It's time for some more Little and Grim reviews. Today we're covering their spring release and their Edgar Allen Poe mini collection. Who doesn't love Poe? And now, if you'll follow me down to the basement I've got these Poe perfumes right here in this alcove. Yes, the one with the pile of bricks next to it...
The perfumes covered in today's review are:
House of Usher
L&G doesn't do individual perfume listings so [ here ] is a link to their scent list and [ here ] is a link to their store front.
All perfumes in this review were allowed to rest for several days after arrival. The perfumes were kept in the dark in a plastic box. I did crack them open to sniff them directly after arrival, and with a couple to do an initial test. The reviews are not based off of these initial impressions - though if a rest did change the smell I’ll note that.
I’m doing a half-hour skin test with each perfume. They are always applied to skin that has either been washed or hasn’t had perfume on it that day. Sometimes I will run one scent on one wrist/hand/arm and the other on the other wrist/hand/arm. When I wash my hands for review purposes I wash with a scented soap (it’s all I have available - shea butter Dove soap or almond Doc Bronner’s). Before doing test periods I often wear or play with other scents in my collection (that I wash off). I also wear scented lotions a lot - usually on my ankles and feet. Theoretically there could be cross-contamination but I try and control for that possibility as best I can.
Each sample was gently swirled before application. Each review is written without looking at the notes (in that moment… I obviously looked at them when I bought). At the end of the review I will list what the notes listed in the shop are and comment on how I think they interacted
A reminder: Each nose is different and each skin’s chemistry is different. Your mileage may vary.
So, fair warning, I recall this is a coffee scent but don’t recall the other notes, only that there are a bunch of them.
In the bottle: A thick, creamy vanilla gourmand, tonka/coumarin, sweet silky-smooth florals (silky-white - not piquant. Maybe honeysuckle?), something dark (resin?), and maybe an edge of coffee. Perhaps it will be different on the skin but right now this is ‘I like some coffee in my cream’ style coffee.
Wet on my skin: Getting some more coffee now! But definitely - there’s an almost biscotti like vanilla (does that mean I’m getting almonds?), I think I’m getting tonka in addition to the vanilla, maybe a touch of chocolate, a bunch of that floral, and… dirt? Like I’m not sensing anything resinous now - maybe an ultra smooth amber could be in here blending with the kind of gourmand vibe - but I think the dark edge is dirt. Still a very creamy coffee - think the most vanilla vanilla-latte you’ve ever had. I’m excited to run into a flormand!
Drydown: So this is going weirdly bitter on me. I feel like the floral is going a little indolic - not in a way that would normally bother me, but it’s blending with the bitterness of the coffee and some with the dirt. What this is smelling like to me is some of the more acrid leather/dirt smells I’ve tried.
So I feel like the core of the scent is that bitter triad of indolic-floral-edge, dirt-bordering-on-potting-soil and coffee. In almost like a nest around that core is a layer of that super creamy, sweet vanilla and tonka blend that reminds me of biscotti. The sweet and the bitter sit in sharp contrast to each other. I don’t think there’s an actual leather in here but it is reminiscent of a kind of acrid leather.
After 30 mins: Still very similar to the drydown. I am wondering if there’s some almond in this and that’s what’s going so bitter. I’ve had almonds do this before on me.
Official Notes: vanilla, cream, cardamom, chocolate, maple syrup, coffee, amber, sandalwood, patchouli, and oak
So the vanilla, cream, cardamom, maple syrup, and probably amber are the gourmand layer that reminded me of biscotti. I’m genuinely surprised there isn’t a tonka note. The coffee is the coffee. I’m really, really surprised there isn’t a floral - it must be the sandalwood. I’m also surprised there isn’t a dirt note! The patchouli in this must be super earthy. The oak is an almost charred oak. For all the wood notes and two resins this isn’t a deeply resinous scent - it’s a contrast between dark, bitter, earthy notes and light, creamy gourmand notes with a kind of tang to it that feels downright floral and glassy.
The throw on this is mostly the kind of vanilla-creamy-gourmand with a hint of the coffee/bitter. Close to the skin the bitter dominates.
Verdict: Not my thing - I like my bitter notes more contained and subtle in terms of personal scents. For someone looking for a sharp contrast who likes sugar-creamy-vanilla gourmand and very bitter earthy notes this is worth trying - I would make sure to start with a sample though. I think this one has the potential to be divisive. But I do think that in the indie perfume world this one will have its fans.
The Gravedigger’s Daughter
In the bottle: If Skittles are “tasting the rainbow” this is smelling it. The whole scent, top to bottom, is luminous. Tart, fruity topnotes - either a mixture of citrus and berries or just very tart berries. Resinous base. There might be some floral in here but I’ll be danged if I can tell for sure just in the bottle. Sweetness throughout - might have a marshmallow note.
Wet on my skin: Rapidly growing anosmic to it. Easy enough to reset by smelling something else, then it again. What I’m mostly getting is pineapple. Much easier to smell in the throw than up close. This is like sugared pineapple and amber along with a smattering of other fruits. Very ‘fruit candy’ scent. There might be a pale pink or white floral in here (my brain says ‘there could be plumeria’ and I am like ‘it could be a resin causing that kind of glassy freshness, we got fooled by Mourning Joe’ and my brain is like ‘pretty sure it’s a floral, my dude’). In the midnotes there’s a sort of creaminess to it (which I like). A lot of notes can contribute creaminess but here I’m going to guess it’s a musk. In sum: a candied, aggressively bright, fruity-floral layered over creaminess and a bright resin.
Drydown/After 30 mins: Combining these two because my alarm bugged and I got distracted. WHOOP. The scent has deepened quite a bit and resinous and darker elements have come out under the ultra-bright fruits. I do think there is a flower here too. The kind of character of the scent is sugared pineapple, some other, harder to identify fruits, possibly marshmallow, possibly amber, creaminess (might be a musk), floral elements and then at the base of the scent darker resins.
Official Notes: sandalwood, orange zest, pineapple juice, tangerine, grapefruit, cream, rose petals, jasmine, musk, and bergamot
So, the pineapple is the pineapple I got. The other fruits are the various citruses (that does give this a very bright character!). The floral is the rose and the jasmine. I get the jasmine more than the rose. Very well behaved jasmine - not acrid at all, just sweet and soft. I think the cream and musk are what I was reading as marshmallow and creaminess - definitely a light musk, I’d guess white. Sandalwood is the resin, and I think the bergamot might even be adding a kind of dark-citrus-resinousness to this. It wore pretty close to the skin but after the initial bout of going anosmic I could smell it strongly throughout when I got in close to my hand.
Verdict: I really like this one! It’s again very much a ‘lotion’ kind of scent to me but I could definitely see upsizing this as an oil or grabbing it as a soap. Recommend strongly to citrus fans and fans of bright fruity-florals featuring white florals.
In the bottle: Red resin, red fruit, dirt, and old woods in that order. The resin kicks out of the bottle like a particularly boisterous cowboy kicks open the doors of a saloon. It’s spicy, it’s resinous… it’s followed by a kinda apologetic red fruit. “Whoops! Sorry my resin friend was so excitable,” the fruit says. I think it might be a cherry (I think I might recall a cherry note in this?) - whatever it is, it smells red and sweet and sticky. If it is a cherry it’s a maraschino type one. There might be some milk chocolate in the mix too. Underneath it all is dirt and a dry, old smell - like dry old wood. Sticky, a little spicy, red, with hints of aged wood.
Wet on my skin: Chocolate cherries and old wood with some resin in there somewhere. So, it’s like the boisterous resin quickly settled down to play poker but now cherries have met chocolate and are a lot less shy. Reminds me a little of Deep Midnight’s Goblins’ Market but more moist, sticky, syrupy. The chocolate cherries are on top and the throw I get is mostly them (I can smell them at arm’s length). When I get closer to the skin I get dirt - verging on potting soil but not quite there - and that old dry wood. Smells like a firewood pile in summer.
Drydown: So, this perfume is a really cool concept and I like how L&G has executed it for a concept scent. At a distance it’s all chocolate and cherries and maybe some tonka. We’re talking like, a foot of throw here. As you get closer in - like, within 3-4 inches, the dirt and old wood come out. I remember this specifically having a ‘decay’ note when I looked at the description, and yep, that’s accurate. It isn’t smelly, but it does smell like an old firewood pile in summer like I mentioned before. Only getting a little hint of a resin - maybe some incense? And a touch of spice in there. Really thought provoking scent.
After 30 mins: Very stable from the drydown. Perhaps getting a little more of the old-decaying-wood in the throw (we’re talking a tiny bit) but otherwise the same.
Official Notes: rich potting soil, cherry, chocolate, eucalyptus, amber, geranium, black cardamom, patchouli, bergamot, cashmere, and sandalwood.
The potting soil in this is actually quite mild. It is a damp, dirty dirt but it only juuuust crossed the line from a dirt-like-it-smells-in-my-lawn to ‘potting soil’. The cherry and chocolate are definitely there - and I can see the cashmere blending with them to make them really silky. The black cardamom is the spice I got a little hint of. The amber, patchouli, and probably the sandalwood are where I got resin from. So that leaves the eucalyptus, geranium, and bergamot to account for a kind of old-decaying-wood accord. I figure the patchouli and sandalwood are adding some to the decay vibe in addition to the resin, but there’s some kind of scent wizardry here. See, I see the notes ‘eucalyptus, geranium, bergamot’ and I’d think a clean scent which is the polar opposite of what this scent is. The eucalyptus adds a kind of green, leafy-herbal edge, the geranium some of that subtle sweetness associated with decay, and the bergamot the woodiness.
Verdict: This isn’t my thing as a personal scent but I freaking adore it as a concept scent. It portrays what it's supposed to - decadent and sweet on the outside, rotten at the core just perfectly. I adore how creative this is, to the point where even though I’m not going to wear it I might hang on to my sample just to show to people. I think for people who’d wear this as a personal scent it’d be for people who both love gourmands, and love decaying-plant-matter scents (think Solstice Scent’s Foxcroft). As a soap I can see this making bathtime a little creepy and a little, well, grim (in a fun way).
Note: After several hours (last review of a batch) the scent has blended more, the cherry has died back some, and there’s a kind of brown dustiness in the scent I associate with heliotrope. I’m not sure if it’s the cherry blending with the patchouli or if there’s some heliotrope in the chocolate or dirty accords but I figured I’d mention it.
In the bottle: I will say, I fully expect this to have a floorboards note even though I don’t recall the official note list. The first thing I get is a wave of apples followed by a swirl of spices - cinnamon maybe. Below the apples some sort of gourmand salty nuttiness I can’t place and something lemony that could be a citrus, could be a white floral, or could be part of the apple. And yes, I do believe I’m getting wooden basenotes.
Wet on my skin: The wood and that kind of nutty note (reminds me some of hazelnut) comes forward. Beneath that (har har har) is some sort of apples, spice, and dark resins combo. This scent is very evocative of fall. There might be a whisper of a floral in here but I wouldn’t dare try to place it. While just the eensiest bit sinister this mostly makes me think of standing on an old covered bridge drinking a cup of cider after eating some sort of nutty breakfast food.
Drydown: At a distance the combo of this nutty scent plus apples reminds me a bit of bubblegum, but up close it’s thoroughly nutty in a kind of buttery way. Very rich. After that come the spiced apples followed by the old wood. This scent blends more than many I’m used to - so I’m still open to there being other components (I do think there’s dark resin in here, but blending really well with the spiced apples). Little edge of something that reminds me of a floral.
After 30 mins: Still dominated by that buttery, nutty note. Makes me wonder if the apple note in this is supposed to be apple butter. If it is it doesn’t smell like it - the apple and the buttery note are separate and the apple is closer to a fresh apple or apple cider. Still got spices, still got wood, still got hints of dark resin and maybe a floral.
Official Notes: pumpkin, apples, oak leaves, oak moss, cedar, musk, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, and brown sugar.
Pumpkin! That’s the buttery note - probably sweetened by that brown sugar. The apples are the apples and they smell very fresh - like apple skin. The spices are the clove, nutmeg and cinnamon. The wood is the cedar (probably also what gave this a kinda floral air) - and what made it smell “old”. What probably gave this a dark character that reminded me of a resin is the spiciness from the clove combined with the oakmoss and musk.
Verdict: This one I will definitely be grabbing as a soap! Perfect for autumn bathing and handwashing.
House of Usher
In the bottle: Herbal-spicy and masculine and dark in a blue-gray way. Topnotes of something that reminds me of Spanish moss. Cold, atmospheric ozonic midnotes layered over a spicy wood - a fir maybe? It feels cold, haughty, and unforgiving. I want to emphasize that in the bottle at least this is a traditional masculine scent and will put some in mind of cologne.
Wet on my skin: Pine is now the most forward note. It coexists with a spicy dark green (still thinking Spanish moss) and a slightly sweet-citrus-bitter note - bergamot, maybe. There’s something a bit piquant in a leafy way without going too deeply into the ‘fresh’ greens territory (no headaches). Ozone is wreathing the scent at the edges. The scent is still very masculine. The overall character is ‘dark green’ with a bit of herbal sweetness ozonic. I think I might classify this as a chypre though I’d worry I’m using the term wrong.
Drydown: Still a dark blue-gray-green chypre but the kind of herbal sweetness has moved to the front of the scent. The pine is still really prominent, and the spicy-dark-green is still the next ingredient. Still got the ozone going on. However, that herbal sweetness moving towards the front has kind of altered the character of the whole thing. It is still cold and masculine - don’t get me wrong - but it’s taken on a very kind of foresty vibe and smells a tiny bit less like a traditional cologne.
After 30 mins: Wearing much fainter but otherwise about the same as the drydown. It’s still there subtly - someone snuggling me would smell it - but not in a strong scentcloud right around my arm. That said, this has had a pretty good throw. I keep catching subtle whiffs of it at arm’s length.
Official Notes: walnut, sandalwood, oak moss and leaves, myrrh, patchouli, pine, bergamot, cedar, fig, lemon, and white amber.
I don’t get anything deeply walnut in this - it might be blending with the inherent woodiness of the pine, which, yes is in here. A bit surprised to see sandalwood and cedar making an appearance - but for me all woods probably blended some with the pine for a general ‘forest’ vibe. The spicy dark green is probably coming from the oak moss and leaves. The bitter-citrus is, in fact, bergamot! The fig in this is subtle but when I see it put in front of me I can see it and patchouli blending and adding some darkness to the scent. What’s giving me that sweet-and-cold sensation is probably the myrrh. The lemon blends with the bergamot for a general kind of ‘citrus’ vibe.
(Also with citrus topnotes and oakmoss base notes... yes! This is a chypre! I think!)
Verdict: Upsize. Wow. Stunning. Probably the best scent I’ve smelled (in regards to my tastes) from L&G. This will be a fantastic winter scent for me.